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The animated Disney television series are beloved by many, so much so that it’s led to a couple of them being rebooted including DuckTales and Darkwing Duck. Another series that would get this treatment would be Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, but it would be rebooted as a live-action/animated hybrid film rather than as an animated television series. Today, we will take a look at said film. Read on for my review of the Akiva Schaffer-directed film, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film takes place in a Roger Rabbit-esque world wherein humans, animated characters, and puppet characters all reside together. We’re then introduced to our chipmunk protagonists, Chip and Dale, and witness their friendship blossoming from their first meeting in elementary school. Soon enough, they’re spending all their time together hanging out, watching old movies and television shows,
performing in talent shows together, going off to work in showbiz together, and eventually getting their own television series, Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers!
The show is a massive success and everyone is happy! However one day, Dale reveals to Chip that he’s been propositioned to star in his own television series, Double-O-Dale, a James Bond-esque spy show. Chip feels hurt that Dale would consider doing something without him and Dale feels hurt that Chip always makes him feel like a second banana. Their friendship suffers from this and soon after, both Double-O-Dale and Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers are cancelled.
Fast-forward to the present day and we see Dale, voiced by Andy Samberg, appearing at conventions to meet with fans after having gotten CGI surgery. His booth isn’t super busy though, so it gives him time to talk with other not-so-busy cartoon characters including his friend, Ugly Sonic, voiced by Tim Robinson.
Chip, on the other hand, voiced by John Mulaney, works as an insurance salesman and lives by himself with his pet dog. It’s definitely not his dream life, but he makes do. That night, he receives a voicemail from his friend and Rescue Rangers costar, Monterey “Monty” Jack, asking him to come over to his apartment as he needs help with something.
Chip heads over to Monty’s apartment and Monty, voiced by Eric Bana, is delighted to see him as the two haven’t seen each other in a very long time. Monty’s problem is that he’s addicted to cheese and severely in debt with a gang known as the Valley Gang. He’s fearful that he’ll be “bootlegged” by them. When the Valley Gang “bootlegs” a cartoon character, they kidnap them, modify their appearance, and then send them overseas to star in bootleg animated knockoff films!
There have recently been a number of animated characters gone missing recently including Flounder (from Disney’s The Little Mermaid) and Monty is afraid that he may be next. Chip assures him that he’ll do whatever he can to protect him.
At that moment, in walks Dale as Monty called him too for help not sure which of the two chipmunks would show up. Chip and Dale haven’t seen each other for years and Dale is genuinely happy to see Chip while hoping he’s still not mad about their series cancellations. Chip says he isn’t mad at Dale, but it’s clear from his expressions that he still has a “chip” on his shoulder.
He leaves Monty’s apartment telling him to call him if he needs help and heads back home. As he walks home, he complains to himself about Dale and we get to see more of the world in which they live.
Later that night, Chip receives a call from Dale. Apparently Monty has been kidnapped and the police want Chip and Dale to meet them at Monty’s apartment so they can take their statements as they were the last to see him. When they arrive at Monty’s apartment, they find it to be a police crime scene headed by a Gumby-esque claymation figure, Captain Putty, voiced by J. K. Simmons. They tell him about Monty’s debt to the Valley Gang and the bootlegging threat. Captain Putty isn’t very hopeful as they’ve been after the Valley Gang for years and unable to catch them or their boss, Sweet Pete.
One of his human officers, Ellie, played by KiKi Layne, recognizes Chip and Dale as she was a big fan of the Rescue Rangers show. Without letting Captain Putty overhear, she tells Chip and Dale that from what they know of bootlegging, the process takes about two days. So they have at most 48 hours to find Monty. The problem though is that they have no idea where the bootlegging facility is, so if Chip and Dale can help them find it, it would be great!
Dale is instantly eager to assist while Chip is adamant that they’re not qualified to find a missing person. Nevertheless, they do find a clue in a piece of cheese that Chip threw out from Monty’s apartment earlier. On its label, it says that it came from a cheese shop on Main Street. Chip gives in to Dale and says they should check it out and then report back their findings to the police. Dale is just happy to have Chip and Dale together again like old times!
Main Street happens to be a nefarious place, an area where evil, crime, corruption, and illegal activities run rampant!
Eventually they find the cheese shop owned by Bjornson, a Muppet-like figure, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key. They start to question him sneakily to see if he has connections with Sweet Pete, but he’s too smart for them. He ties their hands together, puts them in a van, and sends them to Sweet Pete’s factory in the Uncanny Valley.
So this isn’t the bootlegging facility. Rather it’s Sweet Pete’s legitimate business wherein he recycles unpopular animated character merchandise.
Chip and Dale are taken to Sweet Pete’s office where we discover his identity!
So apparently, Sweet Pete, voiced by Will Arnett, is an older, gruffy-voiced, overweight Peter Pan gone bad!
As Peter Pan got older, he got fired from his job since the boy who won’t grow up…can’t grow up. Eventually he got the idea to make his own bootleg film version of Peter Pan which turned out to be a financial success. Ever since then, he’s become a big bootleg filmmaker kidnapping cartoon characters for his films. And now he has plans for Chip and Dale, but they manage to run away from him and escape via the toilet through the sewers washing up on a deserted desert area.
Chip and Dale then head back home and meet with Officer Ellie to report their findings. They realize that Sweet Pete has a fitness tracker of the same brand which Dale has. If they can get ahold of Sweet Pete’s tracker, they can be able to work out where the bootlegging facility is.
The next day, Chip and Dale disguise themselves as maintenance workers at a bathhouse which Sweet Pete frequents. They manage to steal the tracker, but not before having to rap because it wouldn’t be a modern animated film if the characters didn’t rap in it.
They bring the tracker to Officer Ellie and are able to pinpoint where the bootlegging facility is. That night, they raid the place along with Captain Putty and other officers, but nobody seems to be there.
As Chip and Dale wait in the police station afterwards, they get into another fight about the past when they smell something emanating from the office where Captain Putty and Officer Ellie are talking. The smell is that of a Rescue Ranger cologne which only Monty used to wear leading Chip to believe that Monty was recently there.
He suspects Officer Ellie of secretly working with the Valley Gang because of a number of reasons. One: she was the one who sought their help without talking it over first with Captain Putty. Two: she mentioned growing up with the Rescue Rangers show despite it not airing in her hometown. Three: she clarified saying that she would watch VHS recordings of the show that her grandmother sent for her which Chip doubts as grandmothers don’t know how to work VCRs. Four: she told them a fishy story of ruining an earlier mission due to receiving a fake phone tip which Chip feels was a way for them to sympathize with her. Five: the bootlegging facility showed signs of having recently been occupied right before they raided it which Chip feels was because Officer Ellie warned the Valley Gang first.
They head for the convention to seek help from Ugly Sonic as he’s in contact with the FBI for a show that he’s doing, but Sweet Pete and his henchmen are there chasing Chip and Dale through the convention.
They capture Chip and take him back to the bootlegging facility while Dale manages to escape. Captain Putty and Officer Ellie are alerted to what happened at the convention and head for the bootlegging facility. Officer Ellie aims her gun at Sweet Pete telling him to stop, but Captain Putty aims his gun at her!
Yep, as you guessed, the Valley Gang did have a partner in the police force. However, it wasn’t Officer Ellie; it was Captain Putty the whole time! He did it for the money and he even was the one that gave Officer Ellie the fake tip in that embarrassing mission from the past.
He forces Officer Ellie to call Dale and have him meet them at the bootlegging facility. Dale realizes that she is actually good and that there’s danger waiting for him at the bootlegging facility. So he seeks the help of his two other Rescue Rangers costars, Zipper and Gadget, voiced by Dennis Haysbert and Tress MacNeille reprising her role from the show, respectively.
The two are married now and have a great life together with like a bajillion mouse-fly hybrid kids!
They fly Dale to the bootlegging facility so he can take the Valley Gang by surprise. He manages to break in rescuing Chip and Officer Ellie. However, the bootlegging machine goes bonkers blowing up the facility while transforming Sweet Pete into a mega Fat Cat-type villain composed of multiple cartoon character parts.
Officer Ellie fights Captain Putty and wins by freezing him (since he’s made of clay) while Chip and Dale do their best to evade Sweet Pete by the docks. They manage to defeat him by dropping a crate on his head and Ugly Sonic arrives in time with the FBI to arrest the baddies.
Chip and Dale discover a container on the docks wherein all the bootlegged cartoon characters have been kept including Monty. They manage to free them all!
The Rescue Rangers gang reunites with Gadget and Zipper, Officer Ellie decides to open her own detective agency, Dale suggests that they reboot the show, and Chip and Dale are best buds again!
And that was Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers! I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one! It’s really awesome to see this Roger Rabbit-esque world wherein humans, cartoon characters, and puppets all live together, but for some reason it doesn’t work as well. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t introduce us to this world; rather they just threw us into it. Maybe a narration explaining the mechanics of this world would have helped? I’m not sure.
But I do appreciate the obvious admiration for animation that the filmmakers showcased in this film. Seeing hand-drawn, CGI, and claymation characters together put a smile on my face. The references made to so many animated films, shows, and clichés warmed my heart. And the cameos! They were so many! Everything from Ugly Sonic to Lumiere to MLP to South Park to Cats, etc! I don’t even know how Disney got the rights to some of these characters!
The story was very creative, but I felt the plot needed a bigger scope! Maybe cartoon characters from all around the world should have been kidnapped! And they definitely should have kept the villain of Sweet Pete a secret until the end of the film! Speaking of which, making Peter Pan the villain just felt wrong! That’s like making Winnie the Pooh the villain of your story!
I found most of the voice actors to be great although I wasn’t too fond of Andy Samberg’s Dale. Speaking of which, it was also weird to hear Chip and Dale speak normally instead of in their usual high-pitch voices that we’re used to hearing. Then again, this is similar to how I felt about Huey’s, Dewey’s, and Louie’s voices in the DuckTales reboot, but I eventually grew accustomed to it. Had this film been longer, would I have grown accustomed to Chip’s and Dale’s voices? Who knows?
KiKi Layne was the only main human actor in the film and her performance was okay. You can tell that she was trying. I also felt the special effects weren’t anything spectacular, but they definitely could have been a lot worse than what they were. Like, I didn’t really have any complaints when the human actors interacted with the animated characters or when the puppets interacted with the animated characters.
All in all, this wasn’t a bad film, but it definitely is a mixed bag. I feel this was good enough to warrant a theatrical release, but you didn’t necessarily have to see it on opening night.
So, my final score for this film is 25/35 = 71.43% (C-) !
The next review will be posted on June 28, 2022.